Moving Out

I spent 29 months in a residential housing system from 1988 to February 1991. I recommend this option only as a last resort. I favor getting a job that enables a person to rent or own a free-market apartment outside of “the system.”

The memoir excerpts will continue here through mid-December. It’s my goal to have Left of the Dial go on sale in early January 2015.


On a cold winter day, I drove around the island looking at apartments. A woman showed me a dark and dirty place in Westerleigh. A garden apartment in Dongan Hills was too far from the train. A basement room in Arrochar was the size of my childhood closet.

The last studio I saw was near the amusement park on Sand Lane. This apartment rocked. Light flooded the room from two big windows. A sink, stove, refrigerator, and cabinets lined one wall, which extended farther than the main area to create a dining nook. I took in the good-sized closet and the utility closet that I could have my father attach a rod to so I could hang more clothes. The bathroom was spotless. Mostly, the sunlight coming through clinched the deal.

“I’d like it,” I said, not aware that maybe the landlord had to decide if he wanted me as a tenant. “Great. It’s four hundred per month like I told you on the phone. I prefer to be paid in cash.”

“Could I come next Saturday with the deposit?”

“Sure. The lease will start February first, and the rent is due on the first of the month.”

“Great. I’ll be by in the morning.”

“See you then.” He closed the door.

When I returned to Holland Avenue, I raced into the office to see Viola. She had been waiting all day. “I can tell you found something. You have a glow.”

“Oh, it’s wonderful. The light streams through the windows. It has two big closets.”

“You deserve this success. You took what you were given and wouldn’t let it defeat you. I can only imagine that you’ll use that determination in whatever comes your way in the future.”

“Oh, I’m so excited; I can’t wait.”

“I’m confident that you have what it takes to fly solo.” Viola looked at her watch. “I’ll let you go now. I have to write up your discharge papers.”

When I got back to the residence, I sat at the dining table and wrote down a list of everything I’d need to do, buy, and secure: Change my address at work and at the post office. Get a sofa bed, dresser, and kitchen table. Hook up the utilities.

Wow, I’ve finally done this: I’ve recovered. It took just over three years, and I have found my way back.


Left of the Dial Amazon Page

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